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Photographer Spotlight
















Dave Jones Photo by Greg Bishop www.gregbishopphoto.com



Table of Contents JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2016







Teens at The GAMES

By Dr. Tim Simansky

By Lauryn Lax


“I am Spartan!” Team WOD Talk summons the spirits of Greek warriors to conquer the Spartan Ultra Beast



Photographers: Robbie Wright, Greg Bishop, Linette Kielinski, Dan Wiseman, James Stewart, Charlotte Foerschler


A Secret to Boost Your Performance Warm up, train efficiently, and recover quickly without spending hours at the gym.

27 Photographer Some of the best photographers in the business have captured the essence of CrossFit and have shared their photographs with us.

Fun ≠ Functional – Proper Programming By Mark Denesha

By Gary Worrall


WOD DOC Docket — The Movement: Hip Hinge

By Fara Rosenzweig


Jackie Howard: My CrossFit Transformation By Jackie Howard


Killing the Box Jump and Reaching Kettlebell Detente The Competition Box Jump Has Died. By John Mustafa

The Good, the Bad, and the Dirty: World’s Toughest Mudder 2015 Recap By Amy Lawson


Andrea Ager Cover photo by Robbie Wright www.robbiewrightphotography.net


Mark Denesha


Mark Denesha will graduate with a Doctorate in Physical Therapy in May. He developed a passion for training and educating while assisting soldiers to pass the Army Physical Fitness Test while serving overseas in Iraq. Mark discovered CrossFit in 2010 and now combines his knowledge of movement to improve athlete’s skills and prevent injury. He currently manages a website and blog, www.Muscles2Movement.com, where he provides a PT perspective on strength and performance training.

Christina Elmore christinae@wodtalk.com CREATIVE DIRECTOR & EDITOR

Chris Elmore celmore@wodtalk.com ADVERTISING

Geoffrey Smith sales@wodtalk.com SOCIAL MEDIA DIRECTOR

Heather Villeneuve heather@wodtalk.com

Tim Simansky, DC, DACBSP, CSCS                                                                           Dr. Simansky is a graduate of University of Scranton. He received his doctorate from New York Chiropractic College and became a Diplomat of the American Chiropractic Board of Sport Physicians through Palmer South College. Additionally, Tim is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. Dr. Tim holds certifications as a Crossfit Level 1, Olympic Lifting and USAW coach. Annually he plays an active role in the medical staffs of both the CrossFit Regions and CrossFit Games.


Cathleen Yates Geoffrey Smith PHOTOGRAPHER

Felix Cervantes

Dr. Tim is the self-proclaimed mad scientist of www.theWODdoc.com, a daily video blog dedicated to providing quality information on lifting technique, mobility, and nutrition.


David Montano Corecom Enterprises, LLC dmontano@corecomenterprises.com

John Mustafa


Amy Lawson, Charlotte Foerschler, Dan Wiseman, Fara Rosenzweig, Gary Worral, Greg Bishop, Jackie Howard, James Stewart, John Mustafa, Lauryn Lax, Linette Kielinski, Mark Denesha, Robbie Wright, Tim Simansky

John Mustafa (“Moose”) has been a CrossFit Certified Level 2 Coach and holds CrossFit certifications in Olympic Lifting, Power Lifting, Gymnastics, Mobility, Rowing, Endurance, Strongman, Coaches Prep, and CrossFit Kids. He also successfully completed the CrossFit Online Judges certification course in 2013 and 2014. A graduate of UCLA and UCLA School of Law, Moose has served as a judge and head judge at numerous fitness competitions since 2009. He trains and coaches at CrossFit Reality in Signal Hill in Signal Hill, Calif.


If you are interested in advertising you can contact us at: sales@wodtalk.com CONTRIBUTE

If you are interested in commenting, contributing articles or photography you can contact us at: info@wodtalk.com

Amy Lawson Amy Lawson is a CrossFit Level 1 trainer, English teacher, wife of a strength coach and mom to 2 teen boys. She competes in CrossFit, Elite Spartan Races, Tough Mudders, and just about anything else that presents a new and different challenge. Find her on:


If you are interested in joining the WOD Talk Media Team you can contact us at: media@wodtalk.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amylawson323 Twitter: @ALawson323 Blog: www.running4one.blogspot.com/ Email: a_c_lawson@yahoo.com


WOD Talk Corporation 407 West Imperial Hwy., Suite H203 Brea, CA 92821 (714) 900-2804 info@wodtalk.com

Lauryn Lax


Corecom Enterprises, LLC dmontano@corecomenterprises.com

Lauryn Lax is an occupational therapist, nutrition therapist, and founder of THRIVE, a holistic therapy, nutrition and lifestyle practice in Austin, Texas.  http://meanttothrive.com

AFFILIATION STATEMENT WOD Talk is an independent magazine with no affiliation with CrossFit, Inc nor is it endorsed by CrossFit, Inc or any of its subsidiaries. The views and opinions expressed in WOD Talk Magazine are not those of CrossFit, Inc or its founders. CrossFit is a registered trademark of CrossFit, Inc.



January / February 2016


The Movement:

Hip Hinge by dr. tim simansky


f there was a scavenger hunt for movement proficiency, it would start with finding the hip hinge. Defined, hip hinging is the ability to fold the top half of the body over the bottom. The term itself is not imaginative nor disguised. Hinge refers to the same objects that allow doors to swing open and closed, while the hips are simply the part of anatomy acting like the hinge.

industrial-strength door fitted with rusty hinges will no doubt lead to premature wear and tear. It’s obvious the mechanism works best when there are quality hinges, a quality frame, and a quality door. Utilizing this concept, it becomes easy to dissect the movement. Understand we can have one problem; the door won’t open, but the problem can be due to the door, its frame, or the hinges.

The Problem:

Raggedy Doors: By far, the largest problem seen is the inability for athletes to maintain a neutral back position while folding over their hips. Naturally, we all have a small inward curve in our low back (and also

The best quality hinges in the world give us little benefit if the doorframe or door itself is weak and flimsy. Vice-versa, a quality doorframe and an



January / February 2016

article > The Movement: Hip Hinge Mobilizing The Hip (oiling the hinges)

neck). This inward curvature is referred to as a lordosis.

The best all-encompassing hip mobilization is by far is the box stretch.

Have you ever heard your coach use the terms “loss of lordosis” or “falling into f lexion?” This is when we are unable to maintain that inward curvature as we fold into f lexion. Please understand, when we say the term flexion we are referring to flexion of the hips so, that means anytime your knees and chest are getting closer together independent of the movement. Squats, toes-tobar, and kipping handstand push-ups (HSPUs) all require a degree of flexion, and thus can be subject to this faulty movement pattern.

• On a box approximately hip height, attempt to cross one leg flat on top of the box while the other is kicked behind in a lunge type fashion. • The first goal is to get your knee flat on the box. • To increase the mobilization intensity, adjust your leg positioning your knee at 90°. • Drive your belly button, not your chest, toward your calf on the box. • Slowly oscillate into and out of tension for 30 repetitions per leg.

Testing neutral spine (reinforcing the door) How are you expected to maintain a neutral back position bent over if you cannot do it while in a neutral position? Prone planks are a great way to test and improve your neutral back position. • Lie on the ground face down with your feet together and hands under your shoulders • Squeeze your buttocks, tighten your tummy, stiffen your legs • Drive up so your elbows and toes support you. • Maintain that position for 10 seconds. • Plank as straight as possible, making sure not to poke your butt up or allow your tummy to sag. • If this is easy, move on to the three steps below. • If this is difficult add 3 sets of 10 reps to your daily workout routine.

Rusty Hinges: Using a solid door with rusty hinges is like using a dull axe. Ultimately you may be able to get the job done, but it won’t look pretty and, it will take additional time and effort. In reference to hip hinging, lack of hip mobility acts like rust built up on the hinges of a perfectly good door. The door itself still works, but it takes more effort to use it. Have you ever watched a CrossFit event and seen an athlete who appears stronger and in better shape than the rest of the field? You think there is no way that person doesn’t win every event. You make it a point to watch that athlete compete and to your astonishment, they struggle. It seems like every rep is more difficult then the previous. Just getting into the positions looks taxing for them. This is a typical example of not pretty, more effort, and more time.

Three Steps to a better hinge Once you have demonstrated adequate mobility and sufficient lower back stability, here are three ways to improve your hip hinge.


Seated hip hinge (SHH) The SHH is a great starting point because it eliminates the lower body, allowing you to concentrate on keeping the torso locked down against the dowel.

• • • •

Start seated on the edge of a box or chair. Placed a dowel vertically along the mid-line of your back. Assure your head, back, and butt are touching the dowel. Flex forward as far as you can without allowing your head, back, or butt to leave contact with the dowel. • Repeat for 3 sets of 10.

The Fix: It’s important to have adequate range of motion for any movement. This pre-request assures you are not just reinforcing a limited movement pattern. We call this “earning the movement.” To check your hip range of motion, preform the following two movements: 1. Lie on the ground, belly up, with your legs against the wall, feet together. Keeping you knees straight, creep you butt as close to the crack of the wall as possible. If you are able to get your butt to the wall while keeping your knees completely straight, you have demonstrated adequate flexion. 2. Sit in a chair and cross one leg over the other, ankle to knee. Attempt to bring the crossed leg parallel to the ground. If you are able to reach approximately parallel, you have demonstrated adequate rotation. Now repeat for the opposite side.



January / February 2016

article > The Movement: Hip Hinge


Kneeling hip hinge (KHH)


The KHH increases the challenge by integrating the lower extremity, but simplifies the maneuver by eliminating the knees from the equation.

• • • •

Start in a high kneeling position. Placed a dowel vertically along the mid-line of your back. Assure your head, back, and butt are touching the dowel. Drop from a high kneeling position to a low kneeling position without allowing your head, back or butt to leave contact with the dowel. • Keep your shoulders over your knees • Repeat for 3 sets of 10.


Standing hip hinge (SHH) The SHH is the most difficult because the full lower half is involved, forcing the athlete to concentrate on balance as well as hinging.

• • • •

Start in a standing position, knees slightly bent Placed a dowel vertically along the mid-line of your back. Assure your head, back, and butt are touching the dowel. Draw your butt back and allow your torso to fold forward in a bowing fashion keeping your shoulders over your knees. • Stop when either you can no long keep your head, back, or butt against the dowel or you begin to loose your balance. • Repeat for 3 sets of 10.


January / February 2016

Fun ≠ Functional Proper Programming

Fun does NOT equal functional… relevant, safe, or effective.

by mark denesha

Google “CrossFit Fail Compilation” – although some of the clips in these videos aren’t CrossFit, some are. As CrossFit matures as a sport and transitions from its infancy, the great and “not-so-great” exercises/ movements will hopefully separate themselves.

I was roped into an online “discussion” recently (when you disagree with someone online, why is it misconstrued as “hating”?) about exercise choice for programming. I’m going to relate this to what I have experience with, so let’s talk physical therapy and CrossFit.

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” — Albert Einstein

CrossFit I love CrossFit.

The Internet is a great resource. It provides a ton of information on any topic you want to know about. An unfortunate downside is that everyone wants to make the newest greatest exercise video and then post it online for the world to see. I often find that these “experiments” are not well thought out.

I love that it’s changing people’s lives. I love how it has shined a light on sports like weightlifting and gymnastics. Here is where my criticism begins: Unless you’ve been living under a rock, most professionals in health and fitness have heard of CrossFit. It has exploded over the past decade, with boxes popping up like weeds. All that stands between you and a Level 1 certification is $1,000 and a weekend, and then BAM - you’re qualified to lead a class (which may or may not contribute to my discontent).


I understand the need to be creative, to express your inner artistic nature, to make your class fun and exciting for all members. But at what cost? This is a simple risk/reward scenario. When you choose an exercise, especially a novel movement, run these questions through your head.


January / February 2016

article > Fun ≠ Functional – Proper Programming

Your members may have fun doing your new innovative exercise (that will probably end up on a CrossFit fail compilation), but your members will have more fun hitting PRs with proper programming that is well thought out. I will agree; it probably is more dangerous driving on the freeway than doing box jumps for time in a metcon. The difference is you aren’t going to drive your car home wearing a blindfold are you? Probably not, because that increases your risk of injury. Last, just as Einstein said, keep it simple. Your members may have fun doing your new innovative exercise (that will probably end up on a CrossFit fail compilation), but your members will have more fun hitting PRs with proper programming that is well thought out. Don’t be the birthday WOD guy.

Physical Therapy The same 3 questions stated above apply to PT. Exercise prescription is paramount. Some patients are more difficult than others and only will do exercises that they like (refer to my “Favorite Patient" article), but that doesn’t mean it will be effective.

1) What is the goal of this movement? 2) Is it safe?

Your exercises should be creative and fun, but don’t lose sight of the goal. Sometimes the best prescription is straight leg raises (SLRs) and clam shells. You can either be the “fun” PT who is doing cool new exercises, or you can be the PT that gets results. In the long run, your patients will appreciate a well thought out exercise plan that gets them better in the shortest amount of time.

3) Can I accomplish the same task in a simpler way? If the goal is “fun”, save it for your warm-up or cool-down sessions. You attended the Level 1 Certification. You are the professional. Your members trust your judgment. You’re like a parent; just because your child thinks playing in the road is fun, doesn’t mean that you don’t understand the inherent risk in that activity.

Let me know your thoughts on the topic. I promise I won’t think you’re “hating” if we disagree.

Is it safe? All exercises have some risk. This is where we, as adults, must weigh the benefits and the potential problems. As coaches, our responsibility is to mitigate risk whenever possible. M.A.D. About the author http://www.muscles2movement.com/blog/programming

The following argument was proposed to me regarding risk: “People get in their cars and drive home after the workout which is 100 times more dangerous than the exercises.”



January / February 2016

Teens at The GAMES by lauryn lax

Angelo Diccico Photo credit: CrossFit Inc.

Nicholas Paladino Photo credit: CrossFit Inc.

Most teens are busy attending sleepaway camp, throwing house parties when their parents are away, competing in basketball, baseball or football tournaments, and sleeping until noon during their summer vacations. However, a select group of 40 teens from around the world had a different tale to tell over their last summer vacation; they were busy training and competing, for the first time ever, at the CrossFit Games.

“My goal is to make it to the Games by 2019 when I am 18,” 14-year-old Brooklin Smith of Austin, Texas, said earlier this year during the 2015 CrossFit Open.

Smith, 13 at the time, and her sisters Callaway (now 6) and Ashtin (now 10) instantly took to the functional fitness program with their backgrounds in after-school gymnastics.

Little did Smith know that her five-year plan would actually come to fruition sooner than she thought. In a first for the sport, the top CrossFit teens in the world would actually receive an invite to compete at the 2015 Games.

“I started in the CrossFit kids class, doing it two days a week,” Smith said.

As she made her rapid ascent through the programs, both her parents and the owners of the box recognized there was something different about her.

“In there you just learn the basic movements like push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, handstands, etc.  I was in the kids class for a few months before moving up to the teen class. In the teen class I started getting into a little bit of weightlifting. That’s when I realized that I want to do

“She wanted to be in the adult classes, and asked if she could. The owners of the box noticed she’d been advancing pretty quickly, and said they’d let her give it a try,” dad Jeremy recalls. “She really was able to hold her own. When she wants something, she goes after it.”

Smith was introduced to CrossFit about two years ago by her dad, Jeremy, after he started training with a friend in a local box in Dallas, TX.



more. I did the teen class for a couple months before moving into the adult class.”

January / February 2016

article > Teens at The Games a Saturday afternoon?” her mother Andria recently posted on her Instagram feed, catching Brooklin in action, training with intention: “I will learn to love running and lunges,” Smith says with a smile. The scariest part about Smith’s story? There are 39 other teen athletes just like her that came to this year’s Games, meaning one thing: The elite athletes of this sport better watch their backs (and PRs)—a new level of greatness is rising. Since CrossFit is still considered a relatively newer athletic endeavor, many of today’s future superstars are the first generation—they are the guinea pigs and by-products, of our CrossFit Kids programs, as well as the former spectators of the sport’s evolution. They’ve tasted the Kool-Aid, and now, they are ready for their turn at what they’ve seen on TV. One look at the stats of first-place teen male (16-17 division) Nicholas Paladino reveals it’s far more than a kids’ competition: • • • • •

Nicholas Paladino Photo credit: CrossFit Inc.

Back squat: 365 pounds Front squat: 340 pounds Snatch: 250 pounds Clean & Jerk: 315 pounds Deadlift: 531 pounds

Paladino, a high school junior from New Jersey, has been doing CrossFit for just over a year. He started CrossFitting after gaining inspiration from YouTube.

Her first CrossFit Games experience is a shining example of that. In 2015, she won first place in the South Central Region Open. In order to achieve her goals of being an elite athlete at every level of competition, Smith sticks to a routine schedule, similar to the high-performing athletes in this sport. A day in her life goes like this: • Wake up at 5:30 a.m. • Have a breakfast of meat and vegetables left over from last night’s dinner • School until 3:30 p.m. • Homework until 5:30 p.m. • Gym with dad for mobility work • WOD 6 p.m. 4-5 days per week • Dinner with family • Get some sleep! “If I do what no one else wants to do today, I can do what they can’t tomorrow,” Smith said. Smith finished eighth overall in the 14-17 year old division at the Games, and said the experience has fueled her drive and passion further for what is to come. Nicholas Paladino Photo credit: CrossFit Inc.

“Doesn’t everyone do 5 rounds of 10-85# weighted lunges and 10-driveway sprints on



January / February 2016

article > Teens at The Games “I saw videos on YouTube of CrossFit, and I said to myself, ‘I think this could help me get better at football.’ So I tried it, and as my passion for CrossFit grew, my passion for football lessened, so I decided to just pursue CrossFit full time,” Paladino said. In doing so, Paladino hired a coach of his own and went to work. “Me and my coach are very different from many of the athlete and coaches you see out there. We program together rather than him just programming for me. Every morning, leading up to the Games in particular, we’d sit down and talk about what needed to be done that day for me. We’d pretty much just throw ideas together until we mapped out the whole day,” he said. Paladino would hit the gym for hours of training: • A longer workout to warm up and get moving, • A heavy lifting session • Then a couple of metabolic conditioning (Metcon) workouts to finish it Paladino’s first-place success and overall experience at this year’s Games affirmed, that CrossFit is what he is meant to do for this season in his life. “This was a great learning process for the years to come,” he said. Seventeen-year-old Isabella Vallejo of CrossFit Logic-Marcoola in Australia took first place in the ladies’ division. Vallejo echoes Paladino’s drive to pursue a future in CrossFit. “My Games experience was the best experience of my life,” Vallejo said. “I loved every moment of it. Before every event, I was nervous, my legs would go to jelly and I’d think, ‘How am I meant to do anything with jelly legs? C’mon legs, snap out of it!’” Vallejo’s first-place finish is directly attributed to her strength and dedication she’s put into her training over the past 2 ½ years, boasting PRs including: • • • • • •

Back squat: 281 pounds Front squat: 220 pounds Snatch: 149 pounds Clean & Jerk: 193 pounds Deadlift: 298 pounds Fran time: 4 minutes

She said the opportunity to compete on the big stage in Carson got rid of any doubts she had about herself or her own abilities. “Anything is possible. If you do the hard work, you can achieve anything you want,” Vallejo said. “There’s no point in stressing or beating


Angelo Diccico Photo credit: CrossFit Inc.

yourself up about something, some days might feel bad or like your falling back, but don’t give up, those are the best days and make the best days feel even better.” In order to achieve the ‘impossible’ as a teen athlete, a day in the life of Vallejo looks something like this: “Mondays I will get up at 4am and coach 5am and 6am class, then come home and eat, organize my week, chill out a bit, have lunch at 12, go back to the box, train, clean, coach a class, then train again, then go home have dinner and shower and bed! I finished with high school last year, so this past year have gotten to take full advantage of a gap year,” she said. Vallejo works closely with a coach, who programs her daily WODs, Oly lifting sessions,


and skill work. She also takes her diet seriously—despite being an age where pizza and sodas are still common staples amongst peers. “I basically try to stick to Paleo, but with dairy and rice. On the weekends, I would let myself have something a little outside that but. Nutrition was very tough for me as I have a massive sweet tooth, but I continued to be strict and it’s become more of a norm,” she said. A typical day for a dedicated young athlete, like Vallejo, includes a breakfast of Paleo pancakes (2 eggs, 1 banana, protein powder) with some yogurt and cinnamon, and coffee. Lunch is a garden salad, meat, cheese, rice, or sometimes a wrap. In the afternoon, she has tea along with an apple or banana and some nuts. And dinner is usually rice, veggies, meat, with a protein shake after each training session in addition.

January / February 2016

article > Teens at The Games

Angelo Diccico Photo credit: CrossFit Inc.

First place Games finisher in the Boys 14-15 Division, Angelo DiCicco, keeps a similar schedule to Vallejo—minus the diet. “I eat anything I can whenever I can,” he said. Like teacher, like student. DiCicco, of CrossFit Mayhem in Cookeville,

Angelo Diccico Photo credit: CrossFit Inc.

Tenn., has been learning from the best of the best from the time he was 13 (training under and alongside Rich Froning Jr. himself—known for eating peanut butter and chocolate milk like candy). “Rich and Dan Bailey came to my school and I was hooked,” DiCicco said, reflecting back to when he first discovered the sport.

Angelo Diccico Photo credit: CrossFit Inc.

Since then, DiCicco’s lifestyle and dedication to CrossFit have evolved. A typical day in his life looks something like this: “Eat. Workout. Eat. Nap. Workout. Mobilize. Eat. Sleep,” he said, and oh yes, he finds time for school somewhere in there as well. When the opportunity arose to compete in the Teens Division Open this year, DiCicco decided he’d give it a try. “People from my gym thought I could win the Open so I tried it out!” he said. Finishing first place in the world in his age bracket, DiCicco must be doing something right. “My community is second to none,” DiCicco said of the support that has brought him to where he is today. Dedicated young athletes, like Smith, Paladino, Vallejo, and DiCicco are only just beginning—just beginning to change the ‘game’ and future of CrossFit—what is to come. “From here, I’m currently training for the 2016 CrossFit Games. My life goals are to eventually win the CrossFit Games as an individual and, one day, be better than Rich Froning ever was. I admire him so much and seeing what he accomplished inspires me to strive to be better than him,” Paladino said.

Angelo Diccico Photo credit: CrossFit Inc.

Watch out Froning, they are all coming for you.



January / February 2016

A Secret to Boost Your Performance by fara rosenzweig article sponsored by compex

Warm up, train efficiently, and recover quickly without spending hours at the gym.


t might be too good to be true, but the reality is that there is a tool that many elite athletes and fitness buffs are adding to their daily routine: the electric muscle stimulator (EMS).

Sip on your recovery shake as you flush lactic acid out with the Compex recovery program—one of the best functions to increase your performance and reduce risk for injury.

A hidden gem, EMS should be used along with your normal training regimen. This is a small device that can help you make the most out of your gym time and to increase performance, fast and efficiently. Many times when people hear EMS they immediately think recovery or physical therapy. While EMS is ideal to use during recovery and rehab, there are more beneficial ways to use EMS.

John Welbourn, who played nine years in the NFL and started more than 100 games as an offensive lineman, is the founder of CrossFit Football and Power Athlete. Welbourn has been creating training programs for everyone, from the average recreational user to the professional athlete. “Having used EMS in my own training as a nine-year starter in the NFL, I know a great deal about the technology and how to train for performance,” Welbourn says.

You can throw on your favorite reality TV show—we won’t t e l l — or s p or t i n g event, turn on your EMS device and allow your muscles to warm up. The pre-designed warm-up program activates your muscles and gets them ready for work.

“The Compex unit has programs for recovery, warm up, and massage, but also hits all the frequencies for the recruitment of slow a nd fast twitch muscle fibers. Simply, Compex has programs that utilize frequencies (Hz) that ta rget ever y t h i ng from warm-up and recovery to recruitment fast t w itch muscle fibers by firing motor units are frequencies up to 120 Hz,” Wellbourn shares. “This becomes very important when paired with a solid strength and conditioning program that focuses on increased strength, speed and muscle mass.”

Toss the device in your gym bag, and stick on the selfadhesive electrodes during your workout to get your muscles working harder than ever before—yes, it’s true. When working out with devices like Compex, you’re able to recruit muscle fibers to the next level without putting more pressure on your body. You’re able to save your energy for competition day to lift more and perform faster.



January / February 2016

article > A Secret to Boost Your Performance Josh Bridges, professional CrossFit athlete, has seen first-hand how EMS has drastically boosted his performance, “The first way I started using EMS was with recovery. Then once I started to mess around with other settings on the device, I realized this thing has so much more potential then just recovery.”

What Is Electric Muscle Stimulation Simply put, electric muscle stimulation trains your muscles in a way that traditional workouts alone can’t. It’s one of the many reasons why elite athletes and fitness enthusiasts use EMS to enhance their workouts and training programs, because EMS sends electronic pulses to your nerve fibers in order to create involuntary muscle contractions. Your normal workouts (voluntary muscle contraction) activate as much as 30% of your muscle fibers. Adding this to your training, you’re able to maximize your muscular effort up to 100% of your muscle fibers—both Type 1 slow twitch muscle (endurance) and Type 2 fast twitch muscle (power and explosiveness). That means maximum efficiency with top results.

“EMS can be used for supplementation after doing big body part movements such as squats or deadlifts,” expresses Bridges, “I put the device on my quads or hammies and crank up the strength setting for about 20 minutes and watch how every fiber in those muscles start to contract. It’s insane the growth I’ve seen. I also use it on my shoulders, which I feel has been a weakness of mine. My pressing numbers have seen improvement as well,” says Bridges who uses his EMS device seven days a week.   It may seem weird at first, but gradually increase the intensity level as your body gets used to the electric pulses.

Example Using Compex: First do a quick five-minute warm-up: • Walking high kicks • Butt kicks • Side shuffles • Box step ups

Preventing Injuries

Then place the electrodes on the area you want to strengthen. Let’s do quads. • Select Strength Mode. • Sit on a box or chair with your feet on the ground. • Select Level 1 or 2 for the first two weeks. For the first week, sit getting used to it. After the second week, allow the machine to work. Then stand up and do a few squats. Sit back down for the contractions. (The little man on the screen will let you know when to sit or when to squat). • After two weeks, increase to level 3 to 5. Continue to follow the program. • Be sure to turn the intensity up during contraction

One reason why EMS is so valuable to athletes is because they are able to discover weak muscles that they may have not known were problematic. Example: You hook up both quads and notice one muscle uses more intensity than the other to do the same contractions. This is a sign that one quad is stronger than the other, and can become a problem because injuries usually come from muscle imbalances. “You wont get hurt when you are weak, but you will get hurt when one muscle group is significantly weaker than the other side,”said Welbourn. “Train your muscles bilaterally at the same time to balance contractions. This is extremely beneficial when working with multi-million dollar athletes who can’t afford to find out they have a muscle imbalance on the field.”

How to Use EMS in Conjunction With Your Training

With pre-designed programs, there is something for every athlete, from newbie to elite. CrossFitters are always trying to increase their strength, safely.

It’s fairly easy to use, just spend a few minutes reading the directions— take a look at the training programs online for more visuals to get started.

Another Sample Program: Active Recovery Monday, Wednesday, Friday Use the Resistance setting • Begin at Level 3; make sure to turn the warm-up setting off. • Spend 10 minutes on each: quads, hamstrings and glutes. • Turn the intensity up as high as you can tolerate. Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday Use the Resistance setting • Begin at Level 3; make sure to turn the warm-up setting off. • Spend 10 minutes on each: delts, triceps and upper back (rhomboids). • Turn the intensity up as high as you can tolerate. After four weeks at Level 3, progress to Level 4, using the same protocol. Continue for 12 weeks, then cycle back to Level 3 and try to achieve a higher-intensity level at the same sites at Level 3.



January / February 2016

Photographer Spotlight Some of the best photographers in the business have captured the essence of CrossFit and have shared their photographs with us. Through their lenses they bring a glimpse of the athletes and the dedication, spirit, courage, and strength that epitomize CrossFit.

Photographer Spotlight

Robbie Wright Denver photographer, recently changed careers from running restaurants to taking images. My passion starts with CrossFit and photographing athletes doing amazing things. It all started when I was participating in an event with my wife. I had a blast snapping some pictures more than competing. The pictures then led me down the path to where I am today.

Where you’ve seen me I have been shooting at Winter WODfest, Girls Gone RX - Denver, and The Turkey Challenge. Plus shooting as a spectator at Regionals and

the Games for Backcountry CrossFit. I would say that my photography goal is always to capture the best movement for the athlete that puts them in that timeless image, the one that stands out for them as well as for me. The athlete and I are on the same journey, together during my private photo shoots, it’s a gift I am thankful for.

Fun facts I am a father of three beautiful boys and I love talking about my kids, plus the latest gadgets for my photography business. Being able to capture my kids while they grow up is one of the best gifts I could have.

Website: www.robbiewrightphotography.net Facebook: www.facebook.com/robbiewrightphotography.net Instagram: @rkw

Photographer Spotlight

Stacie Tovar

David Jones

Greg Bishop Ben Smith

Alyssa Sheeran

I’m a photographer and a veteran of the US Army, that has a passion for sports photography. As a CrossFit enthusiast, I know how it feels to push through pain and doubt in the heat of the moment. I strive to capture that raw emotion of grit, pain, and determination of each athlete I photograph. If an athlete is giving their all, as a photographer, I strive to capture those moments. I hope that my photos tell stories of dedication.

Where you’ve seen me Mid-Atlantic Garage Games, Mid-Atlantic Regional, Photographing Ben Smith and the other great athletes at CrossFit Krypton‚ Vekter Games, photography for WOD Talk magazine cover.

Fun facts I love hot peppers. I’m not talking about jalapeno hot, I’m talking about bhut jolokia hot. I’ve stayed in 12 different countries. I lettered in four sports in high school (soccer, cross country, wrestling, and track).

Website: www.gregbishopphoto.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/gregbishopphoto Twitter: @gregbishopphoto Instagram: @gregbishopphoto

Christen Wagner

Photographer Spotlight

Linette Kielinski I was an award-winning photojournlist before I had my two beautiful boys who are now 8 and 5. Began my CrossFit journey three years ago at Manayunk Athletics in Philadelphia, PA. With the support of my family and friends in the Crossfit community, I launched my Wodtographer business less than a year ago! With hard work, talent, and drive I’ve been blessed to have more than two dozen comps, and three awesome elite athlete photoshoots under my belt. I sincerely love what I do!

Where you’ve seen me SuperFit Competitions in the Northeast region and to Virginia, GirlsGoneRx competition, AtlasGames, Local competitions in the Philadelphia and surrounding areas.

Fun Facts I love to knit and sew! I like to sew a lot of my own dresses, skirts, handbags, and clothes for my kids. We have our own little urban garden, complete with honey bees and chickens in Philadelphia (Ssshhh, they aren’t really legal).

Website: Thewodtographer.com Blog: thewodtographer.wordpress.com IG & Twitter: @wodtographer

Photographer Spotlight

Dan Wiseman My name is Dan Wiseman. I live in Sarasota, Florida. I am the owner and lead photographer of Focal Point Media. I’ve been taking pictures since I was a teenager. Events you may have seen me running around at include, but are not limited to: WODapalooza, Florida GRID League, GRID League, and Reebok CrossFit Games Regional events. Outside of CrossFit photography, I actually have a pretty steady work schedule shooting automobiles, real estate and landscape.

Website: www.focalpointmedia.net Instagram: @focal_point_media

Photographer Spotlight

James Stewart Ever since my father gave me his Nikon N200 I have been addicted to photography. Soon after taking photography classes in high school, I bought myself a small enlarger and set up a makeshift darkroom directly on top of my parents’ washer and dryer. Very convenient for me, not really for my mother. Photo processing chemicals and nice clothes don’t mix! She also got tired of seeing a “Do Not Enter” sign on the laundry room. After high school, I attended Bloomsburg University as a criminal justice major. Just as I had become pretty deep into that major I realized I was miserable in criminal justice major and no longer wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement. I quickly switched my major to fine art photography. After Bloomsburg, I returned to work as an auto mechanic. Photography fell by the wayside for a very long time.

Website: www.amrapphoto.com Facebook: AmrapPhoto Twitter: @AmrapPhoto Instagram: @AmrapPhoto

Fast-forward almost seven years. My wife’s CrossFit gym gave me a three-month unlimited membership in exchange for shooting their competition. I would say that after I came home from my first WOD, I realized that I was addicted to CrossFit: Thank you Crossfit Warwick! Photographing CrossFit has been and will continue to be totally awesome! Being a CrossFitter, what better subject matter could there be to shoot than strength, sports and fitness?

Where you’ve seen me GRID at Madison Square Garden, WODFest in the Wild, CrossFit Warwick Summer Challenge, CrossFit Hoboken Winter Challenge, Kill Cliff East Coast Championships.

Fun Facts CrossFitter of course, snowboarder, and dog lover!

Photographer Spotlight

Dave Jones

Connor Quick

Charlotte Foerschler

MC Hall and Jessica Fernandez

CrossFit photography wasn’t something I pictured myself doing. For me, photography started in 2008 when I decided I, like any mom, wanted to get better photos of my two kids. Soon, I started getting asked to shoot weddings, newborn babies, high-school seniors, families and even pets. Then my husband, A lieutenant commander in the Navy, got stationed in Portsmouth, Virginia, and I found myself at CrossFit Chesapeake. One day I decided to try my hand at natural lighting sports photography. It also, just so happened to be on the day that the gym was taking part in one of the most cherished CrossFit workouts; Murph. I knew after that event I was hooked.

Soon, I started taking photos during some of the most brutal workouts, because that is where you don’t just capture a moment but the soul and effort an athlete puts into the workout.

Where you’ve seen me The CrossFit 2015 Atlantic Regionals and CrossFit 2015 Games (volunteer with the media team), at the RUFit Fitness Festival (photographer), Girls Gone RX events (photographer), many local competitions in the Hampton Roads/Virginia Beach, VA. area. Photographs featured by WOD Talk Magazine, Strong Fitness Magazine, CrossFit.com, CrossFit Kids.

Website: www.charlottefoerschler.com Instagram: @charlottefoerschlerphoto Twitter: @cfoerschler Facebook: Charlotte Foerschler Photography

Grace from CrossFit Chesapeake

“I am Spartan!” Team WOD Talk summons the spirits of Greek warriors to conquer the Spartan Ultra Beast by gary worrall This is the battle cry repeated at the beginning of every Spartan obstacle race. Competitors are roused to prepare for the challenging race they are about to commence with a tribute to the spirit of courageous Greek warriors. Just getting into the starting queue of a Spartan race requires that you climb a wall. These races are designed to be difficult. They range in distance and dif-

there. We had focused on weekend long runs combined with short weekday runs and strength training. Our training consisted of a precarious balance of both endurance and

The first obstacle was hip-deep water for no other reason than to make the whole rest of the race uncomfortable. Chris and I defeated a few more obstacles, and then we commenced an arduous climb from some 6,000 feet to more than 9,000 feet with additional obstacles along the way. The climb seemed unending. The occasional stop to flip a tire, carry an Atlas

These races are

Chris and I

designed to be

defeated a few

difficult. They

more obstacles,

range in distance

and then we

and difficulty from

commenced an

the 3-mile sprint,

arduous climb

the 8-mile super,

from some

the 13-mile Beast

6,000 feet to

to the 26+ mile

more than

Ultra Beast.

9,000 feet…

ficulty from the 3-mile sprint, t he 8-mile super, the 13-mile Beast to the 26+ mile Ultra Beast. WOD Talk Editor Chris Elmore decided his very first Spartan race would be the Ultra Beast in Tahoe, California. As detailed below, Chris truly jumped into the deep end. Standing in the queue, I reflected on the months of training which had gotten us


strength. However, nothing we had done prepared us for the altitude. The race began, and we were off on what would become a physical and spiritual journey lasting an entire day.


Stone, or Farmer’s Wa lk a couple of tree trunks were a w e lc ome r e s pit e. However, Spartan race designers are far too devious to allow too much enjoyment. An uphill bucket brigade and uphill tree trunk and sandbag carries were thrown in for a higher degree of difficulty. The obstacles mentioned above are standard fare for a Spartan race. Competitors can train

January / February 2016

article > “I am Spartan!”

for many of the obstacles encountered at the Spartan Tahoe Ultra Beast. The uphill carries can be mitigated by metabolic conditioning (metcon). Olympic moves can help ready a competitor for the heavy carries and tire flips. However, there are Spartan obstacles for which there is no training. Spartan devises new and unique obstacles with each race, and often there is a secret obstacle for which there is no preparation. And don’t forget about the spear throw. This obstacle requires technique; and unless you live on a farm and have access to a stack of hay bales, you will likely find it confounding! Chris and I successfully completed one lap of the Spartan Tahoe Ultra Beast. Competitors were allowed to stash a support bag at the halfway point of the course, so we stopped and refueled. We devoured as much food as we could, refilled our water reservoirs, and took a moment to catch our breath. The obstacles we had just completed



January / February 2016

article > “I am Spartan!”

were hard; however, even harder was gathering the initiative to do a second lap! Having completed what was arguably the most difficult Spartan Beast, we needed to call upon all our physical and mental conditioning to do it again. Chris and I agreed that we paid for two laps and we were going to get our money’s worth! Early in the second lap, we met a competitor who was having difficulty. His friends had abandoned him, taking his food supply at the halfway point. Without calories, he was struggling. Chris and I gave him food and encouragement. Spartans help their fellow warriors. We helped this Spartan through obstacles and up the mountain. While this may have slowed our progress, the feeling of pushing our fellow competitor to the finish was highly rewarding. We had started this race before sunrise; and now the sun was setting. We completed the



final few obstacles with some untapped enthusiasm. There is no greater sound than the echo of the crowd around a finish chute, particularly when you can’t even see it. This sound motivated Chris and me to quicken our pace to the finish. Once we crossed the finish line it became a reality. We had traversed more than 31 miles, conquered more than 50 obstacles, scaled about 6,000 feet of mountainous terrain, and spent nearly 13 hours completing the most challenging race of our lives. Euphoria sets in at this point and all I could do is enjoy the moment. Unfortunately, the moment was f leeting. Chris and I talked about the race for a few days and shared our experience with family and friends. Then, it occurred to us that we had run the Spartan Ultra Beast as a training race in preparation for another event. Within days, Chris and I began to ready ourselves for what was to come because even though this race just finished, our training is the journey.

January / February 2016

Jackie Howard: My CrossFit Transformation jackie howard



y name is Jackie Howard, and I found CrossFit at the age of 44. I started CrossFit after the 2013 CrossFit Open and I did not register for the This was not something I saw myself getting into in my forties, 2014 CrossFit Open as I was not ready. I completed some of the CrossFit especially weighing 284 pounds. At the beginning of each WOD, Open WODs, but not all, as many were above my athletic ability and skill even the warm-up was exhausting, especially the run. My mile time was level. This year, I made a last-minute decision to register for the Open due more than 18 minutes, and I had no specific diet regiment that I followed. to the encouragement of my coaches, friends, and family. This year, there Slowly with the help of my coaches, and support of the CrossFit community was a scaled division for the CrossFit Open, and I knew I could complete all at my gym (CrossFit CSA, in Dublin, CA), I began to learn the skills and of the WODs. I committed to the Master’s Scaled Division and doing each became more fit. WOD only one My coaches moditime. I gave every fied most of my WOD my all, and workouts for me, left it all on the My coaches modified most of my workouts for me, and the and the athletes in floor. In a weekend my gym were more competition, there athletes in my gym were more than amazing with their continued support than amazing with is no second or and encouragement to keep me motivated. Because of them, I continued to t heir continued third attempts at a suppor t a nd WOD. I am proud give each WOD my all, day in and day out, despite being sore and tired. encou ragement to say I completed to keep me motiall movements and vated. Because of all five weeks of them, I continued WODs. As it turned to give each WOD my all, day in and day out, despite being sore and tired. out, all of the skills were in my wheelhouse. Week after week, I became I learned about the Paleo diet and slowly started working it into my eating more competitive with myself, pushing harder and further than I thought habits. I first took away my sugars, learned to find substitutes for grains, possible. I surprised myself with my results. For me, I started the Open and finally, changed my dairy products to non-dairy options. I have been not for a score or a ranking, but for the measurement of my own abilioverwhelmed by not only the support with CSA athletically and nutritionties. I am happy and proud to say in the NorCal Masters Scaled Division ally, but also the support of the CrossFit community. (45-49), I finished in first place and in the Worldwide Masters Division



January / February 2016

article > Jackie Howard: My CrossFit Transformation


(45-49) I finished sixth. Additionally, I finished fourth in the NorCal scaled individuals for all ages, and 216th worldwide in individuals for all ages.

I completed four in a day! The competition confirmed several things for me, and I learned many others.

I now have a few Rx movements and weights, and am working on the One other important factor to my success can be found in my diet. I ones I do not have. My mile time is now at 7:06. I can deadlift 265 pounds, am a fairly strict Paleo eater and can say that I never cheat, or feel the clean 135 pounds, front squat 155 pounds, and back squat 200 pounds. need to cheat in my diet. I have learned how to convert my old recipes I can do Rx pull-ups, toes-to-bar, and knees-to-elbows. I can even get to be Paleo friendly. I included my very own Chocolate Chip Cookie 25 double unders recipe. This is a in a row! I am recipe based off very close on my of my old recipe. bar muscle up It took a while to I now have a few RX movements and weights, and am working on the and hand stand convert, but was push-ups. There well worth the ones I do not have. My mile time is now at 7:06. I can deadlift 265 pounds, is so much to do time and energy. clean 135 pounds, front squat 155 pounds, and back squat 200 pounds. and learn, but I am proud to reI am loving the port I now weigh I can do RX pull-ups, toes to bar, and knees to elbows. journey. 149 pounds and have been at I recently comthis weight for pleted my first the past nine CrossFit competition at the age of 46. It was a rookie competition, months. I am in better shape at age 46 than I was as 18. and I finished sixth overall. I did this competition to test myself, and could not be happier with the results. I wanted to see if I could actually My goal for the 2016 Open is to compete as an Rx Athlete by working on handle three WODs in a day and remain competitive in each. It was a the Rx skills that I have yet to master. To sum this up, if you are willing test to see how much I could actually handle. I am happy to say that I to put in the work day in and day out, anything is possible. You have to went into the finals in first place. Not only did I complete three WODs, start somewhere to see any results.



January / February 2016

article > Jackie Howard: My CrossFit Transformation

Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies Ingredients


• 2 cups Almond Flour

1. Preheat oven to 375° F

• 1/2 cup Coconut Flour

2. Combine all flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

• 2 tbsp Tapioca Flour

3. Beat butter substitute, ground dates, maple syrup,

• 6 tbsp Arrowroot Flour

and vanilla extract until creamy.

• 1 tsp Baking Soda

4. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

• 1 tsp Salt

5. Gradually add in flour mixture.

• 2/3 cup Pure Maple Syrup

6. Stir in chocolate chips

• 1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract

7. Drop on to greased (I use coconut spray oil), cookie sheet.

• 4 eggs

8. Bake 14 minutes.

• 1 cup Earth Balance Soy Free Butter Substitute

9. Enjoy!

• 2 cups Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips • 1/4 cup ground dates, pitted and soaked for 30-60 minutes



January / February 2016

The Good, the Bad, and the Dirty: World’s Toughest Mudder 2015 Recap

by amy lawson


he tent is packed. Wetsuits have been hosed off. The dust has settled, and the sun has set on World’s Toughest Mudder (WTM) 2015. As Team WOD Talk planned and prepared to tackle a 24-hour AMRAP (as many reps as possible) of 5-mile laps of an obstacle course, we had no idea how a team of CrossFitters would fare pushing ourselves further than we had ever gone before. The experience was breatht a k i n g — f r om t he excitement of check-in the day before the race to the jaw-dropping views from the course to the teeth-chattering, ice cold water that surrounded most of the obstacles. W TM 2015 was the event of a lifetime.

For example, on about my 16th mile I was in the middle of a swim obstacle. Swimming up behind me (yet probably on her 60th lap), I saw this year’s (and multiple year’s) winner, Amelia Boone. She was happily chatting with a fellow racer about the other elites and how her race was going. She noticed that my backstroke was starting to carry me off course, and she called out to help me correct my course. As we approached the wall to climb out of the lake, other racers recognized her and immediately cleared a path so that she could continue her race without having to wait.

The Bad: We began our race at 2 p.m. on Saturday. The sun was warm—warmer than Team WOD Talk had anticipated. Dressed in shorts, short sleeves, and Camelbacks, we began our first obstacle-free hour. This hour of grace served to spread the field and reduce the number of bottlenecks at the tougher obstacles. We finished the lap, having only to complete the last obstacle—Mud Mile, and stopped by our pit, all smiles.

The Good: Without a doubt, the best part of WTM was the camaraderie both out on the course and in the pit areas. Instead of laps taking more time the longer we were out on the course, they seemed to take less time as we learned both how to conquer the obstacles and how to work together with complete strangers. And this is one of the best things about Tough Mudder events. The people at Tough Mudder are very adamant that people not call Tough Mudder a race. They insist—it’s an event. And it truly is. Even at WTM, where big prize money is involved, racers help each other out. You complete an obstacle and then immediately turn around to see whom you can help over a wall or out of a trench.


Gary and I had previously discussed donning our wetsuits after Lap 1. We both knew that the cold desert temperatures would be the greatest obstacle in our race. However, at 3:15 pm, with the sun still bright, Team WOD opted


January / February 2016

to save time and roll right into our second lap. About an hour in and only halfway through the course, the sun had set and our foolish decision was haunting us. It wasn’t the air temperature nor the obstacles—it was the frigid water temper at u re s t hat awaited us. As soon as we would start to warm up from running, the diabolical minds of the course designers would have us dunking ourselves back into water again. We couldn’t warm up. Teeth chattering, hands numb, limbs shaking, we hobbled across the finish line of our second lap and headed to our pit. My thoughts were a vortex of nonsense. I’m not even sure what Chris, Gary, and Geoff were doing. All I could do was stand and shiver as our pit crew ladies shoved hot chicken broth into my hands and wrapped me in a Mylar blanket and a down coat—a guy from another camp even stepped over with a trench coat parka to help me warm up. We were faced with a tough decision: Go out again (this time prepared for the cold) and risk hypothermia or spend the dark hours in camp to warm up and return to the course at dawn. Our original goal was to keep moving for the full 24 hours. Faced with potentially ending our race prematurely, we opted to rest and warm—a strategy that proved to enable us to ultimately complete five laps and more than 25 miles.

The Dirty: The course was simply spectacular. I’ve heard from multiple people who both last year and this year that the 2015 course was considerably more difficult than last year’s course. That didn’t much matter to me. All I knew was that I had to complete or take penalties on the obstacles in front of me.

Course Stats: • • • • • • •

1,280 competitors 21 obstacles 5 mile laps 839’ elevation gain per lap 9 penalty obstacles 12 must-complete obstacles 1.55 miles of penalty loops

But stats cannot capture the thrill and the angst of the course. There were obstacles that I couldn’t wait to conquer each lap. And those that caused my heart to pound each time I approached. I still look back and second-guess our decision to retreat to our tents. After those first two laps, honestly, I wanted to quit. I was pissed—at the stupidity of my mistake, at the difficulty of the course, and at my lack of desire to continue. Many racers experienced the same dilemma we did and returned to the course only to be pulled off for medical reasons. Some (including myself, at times) might say that we didn’t fully complete 24 hours. On the other hand, we followed the rules and used our minds to keep us in the race. We did what we had to do to finish the race. And maybe that’s what defines a World’s Toughest Mudder—a mix of brute strength, endurance, and the will to complete the task, whatever the cost.



January / February 2016

Killing the Box Jump and Reaching Kettlebell Detente The Competition Box Jump Has Died by john mustafa


exponentially and, in my opinion, unnecessarily. What functional movement in life requires that kind of movement (i.e., the immediate rebound from a landing) repeatedly? I’m not saying there isn’t one, but I am saying it would be extremely rare. Hundreds of people have probably performed thousands of bounding box jumps without injury; but a significant number of people have also performed the maneuver and ruptured their Achilles tendons. Make no mistake about it; an Achilles rupture — a complete tearing of the tendon from the bone — is catastrophic.

lthough the box jump — as a movement in functional fitness competitions — has not really died, it should, for several very simple reasons discussed below. But first let’s address the problem entailed in making grandiose pronouncements like this in the functional fitness world. Functional fitness competitions are sort of the crowning achievement of functional fitness training: They exist mainly to highlight the varied physical prowesses and high levels of physical conditioning that a functional fitness exercise regimen produces. These competitions don’t exist to make the participants healthier. Your functional fitness gym exists to make you healthier; it may also serve as the training ground for your quest to display your high-level fitness and varied skill sets at a functional fitness competition. However, the gym and a competition are not the same forum, and each sometimes requires a different production effort. With that being said, let’s first examine why the competition box jump should be retired; then let’s examine the natural consequence of this analysis (i.e., the coming revolution).

Consider this description from livescience.com:

“The Achilles tendon is a band of fibrous tissue that connects the calf muscle to the heel bone, according to the Mayo Clinic. You use this tendon in practically every activity that involves moving your foot, from walking and running to jumping and standing on tip-toe.” “What Does the Achilles Tendon Do?” Rachael Rettner, Senior Writer, October 17, 2012

My secondary beef with the competition box jump is safety (we’ll deal with my primary beef later). I am not saying the box jump is not useful, nor am I saying it is unsafe per se, but a very real and very persistent risk can actualize into a catastrophic injury when people attempt to rebound off the bottom of the jump back onto the box — a technique sometimes referred to as bounding. That technique magnifies the stress level on the Achilles tendon



The tear requires orthopedic surgery for reattachment, and the injured person is basically out of commission for about a year. And it is a perfectly avoidable injury during functional fitness workouts. Absorb the shock of landing before trying to explode into the next jump, or reduce the shock of landing by stepping down. If you want to risk catastrophic injury for the sake of getting a faster workout time in the gym, you may be misguided, but it’s your choice to make; the same applies to your competition — maybe a big prize purse is worth the risk, but a medal or a piece of plastic and some swag is unlikely to justify surgery and a year of rehab. Bounding looks totally awesome, but it is not worth the risk. But since box jumps can be performed without bounding, why do I advocate their demise in competitions? Am I just taking issue with a technique? Yes and no.


January / February 2016

My primary beef: the Pisa Lean. You’ve seen it: the athlete looks like the leaning Tower of Pisa, perched for a split second on the top of the box, hips may or may not be fully open, knees may be slightly bent, or not; but most certainly there was no vertical alignment on top of the box, and probably no ability to demonstrate static, vertical control. It’s not a good rep, but they get past judges all the time. It’s the quest for "hyperspeed" that dictates this flaw — the athlete wants to cycle the movement as quickly as possible, and the judge feels conflicted about calling the no-rep because it has a direct effect on the athlete’s speed, hence her time, how vertical is “vertical” and, face it, three other judges are letting it get by, so it seemed unfair to our hypothetical judge for her to be the super strict one.

“Why get rid of it when you can simply enforce the standard better?” Because, sadly, the standard just doesn’t get enforced u n i for m ly. T he point here is not that the box jump has no utility in developing explosiveness or demonstrating athletic prowess (it most certainly does on both counts). The problem is that — when poorly executed or under-executed — it leads to controversy, because so much poor and under-execution slips by during competitions. And when it comes to competitions, controversy is not your friend. Some high-profile amateur and professional events have essentially replaced the competition box jump with the box jump-over, with the major difference being that (1) hip extension at the top is not required (indeed, contact with the top of the box is sometimes not even required), and (2) the terminal point of the action requires the athlete to land on the other side. This is a vast improvement because it emblematizes the larger picture: sports and general fitness training are two different things. Failing to reach full extension at the top of the box is a fail in terms of fitness training; but if the same movement serves a different function during sport, then the movement requirements should be defined according to the objective of the sport and its foibles. I’m not saying that you cannot prescribe a classic box jump as a functional fitness event movement; I’m saying that it lends itself to problems during competitions, so maybe you might do well to opt for the box jump-over instead, which has a far simpler and much more easily enforced standard. It requires an explosive movement over the box (well, if you expect to win, it does) and provides an equally impressive demonstration of power, speed, and balance. It doesn’t eliminate the risks inherent in bounding, but hey, getting one out of two beefs addressed is better than getting none.



January / February 2016

article > Killing the Box Jump and Reaching Kettlebell Detente Kettlebell Detente: Ending the Kettlebell Cold War in Competitions

shoe/trophy/whatever; you are not paying merely to go execute perfect workout form with a bunch of other people. The standards created for “sport fitness” often may not be the same as the standards designed to create “functional fitness.” When we coach or train functional fitness in the gym, it is not our objective to create entertainment or a spectacle — we are getting stronger and staying healthy.

With the above in mind, I call upon the great superpowers to end the squabble over the kettlebell swing during competitions (caveat: this call to lay down arms does not extend to the gym, where fitness enthusiasts should be free to continue the war over full-range-of-motion vs. hip-extension-is-your-goal-so-youdon’t-need-to-go-overhead. Have at it.). Indeed, the act of getting a kettlebell overhead during compet it ions shou ld be referred to as a kettlebell ground-to-overhead (or hang-to-overhead), and all of the controversy over whether it was a two-handed snatch or a true swing, whether the athlete’s arms locked out at the top, whether the athlete demonstrated vertical alignment ,and whether the movement is safe —become much more easy to resolve. If the standard for a twohanded movement is merely to elevate the kettlebell to a designated, relative height (i.e., above the plane of the top of the athlete’s head) while having the athlete achieve vertical alignment of the shoulders, hips, and knees, you end the rampant arms build-up on both sides and veritably defuse the possibility of nuclear war! Well, at least, you make it a simpler and far-less subjective movement to judge. With regard to one-handed overhead kettlebell movements, I’ve still got to insist on complete lock-out and vertical alignment, but artificially slowing athletes down by requiring a clean and jerk (C&J) movement for speed is ludicrous; let them get to the terminal point and full vertical alignment however they please! The only rationale for requiring a C&J is the demonstration of probably the most effective way to get a maximal weight to an overhead position; but that objective is at odds with the speed generally sought when we design multiplerep movements. Whether you snatched it or jerked it should not be the issue; the only question during competition should be whether you got it to the required terminal position and demonstrated full vertical alignment.

But if you hope to draw in large crowds, who pay admission prices, and who patronize all of those vendors and sponsors at your functional fitness competition, you should think about the objective of creating a spectacle worth watching or you won’t have a repeat event. And creating a successful spectacle may require that you redefine some of the movements with that objective in mind. This is the coming revolution in the functional fitness world. Competitions will no longer be dominated by artificial limits that interfere with impressive movement. Of course, it is important whether you clean and jerked 315 pounds as opposed to whether you snatched, and arguably a 315-pound snatch is a lot more impressive, but when the weights are not on the extreme side, the distinction fades. The inquiry at sub-maximal weights with multiple repetitions begins to focus more on the speed at which you achieved the specified, ultimate goal, e.g., how fast you moved the weight to a terminal position for the required number of times. Where speed creates the spectacle, there should be a greater emphasis on extolling efficiency over absolute form, and always with a requirement of safety. Efficiency has killed the competition box jump, mercifully. And efficiency has its sights on many more movements we see in the world of functional fitness competition. When reviewing movement standards, efficiency counsels us to question why each performance poi nt e x i st s a nd whether it serves the end of training only, because it is no longer sufficient to say “we do it this way because that’s how it’s done in the gym.” The competition field is not the gym, so competition hosts and programmers should pay heed to the distinction.

Again, what we are talking about are the objectives of a sport — a spectacle — not the act of training. When you plunk down your entrance fee, your objective is probably to have fun and most likely to try your best to come away with that sweet prize money/



January / February 2016

Profile for Metcon Magazine

WODTALK - Issue 26 - Photographer potlight  

This issue features: Teens at The GAMES “I am Spartan!” - Team WOD Talk summons the spirits of Greek warriors to conquer the Spartan Ultra B...

WODTALK - Issue 26 - Photographer potlight  

This issue features: Teens at The GAMES “I am Spartan!” - Team WOD Talk summons the spirits of Greek warriors to conquer the Spartan Ultra B...

Profile for wodtalk